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An architectural drawing of Duke University’s East Campus

Outrageous Ambitions: How a One-Room Schoolhouse Became a Research University

On exhibit: October 13, 2013- February 17, 2014

Public Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am–7pm; Saturday, 9am–7pm; Sunday, 10am–7pm. Hours may vary of the holidays; please check the library hours page for more information.

 

About the Exhibit

Today’s Duke University, a premier research institution with global reputation, came from the humblest of beginnings: a tiny schoolhouse in Randolph County, NC. From there the organization shifted through many manifestations, ultimately transforming from Brown’s Schoolhouse into Duke University.

A new exhibit on display in Perkins Library, Outrageous Ambitions: How a One-Room Schoolhouse Became a Research University, traces the history of Duke University as it evolved and grew over the past 175 years. The exhibit showcases a selection of events that were fundamental in the creation of University, and focuses on several key themes: foundations, academics, student life, student activism, athletics, presidents, the Duke family, women at Duke, and the architecture of campus.

Brown's Schoolhouse, the humble predecessor of Duke University

Brown’s Schoolhouse, the humble predecessor of Duke University

The materials for the exhibit, which include photographs, documents, ephemera, and other objects, were drawn from the University Archives (unless otherwise noted) and vibrantly illustrate the history of the school. Viewers can further explore Duke history by visiting the recently created online timeline, which highlights other key moments in Duke’s past. An online version of the exhibit is also available.

The title of the exhibit, Outrageous Ambitions, references a speech made by former University President Terry Sanford, in which he expounds on the seemingly impossible ambition that was responsible for creating Duke University. The exhibit seeks not only to remember the incredible aspirations that have supported Duke in the past, but also to inspire the continuing work of Duke students, faculty, staff, and alumni as they craft their own extravagant ambitions.

The exhibit was curated by Maureen McCormick Harlow, 175th Anniversary Intern in University Archives, and Valerie Gillispie, University Archivist. Special thanks to Meg Brown, Mark Zupan, Beth Doyle, the University Archives staff, and the staff of the Conservation and Digital Production Departments in the Duke University Libraries.

 

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